Nigel’s Notes - are we ready?

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Last week I spent a very enjoyable, albeit wet and windy, time over on the west coast with my wife, Wendy.

I think we went almost a week without seeing the sun, but we’re water proof and enjoyed the exercise and fresh air. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit a fish farm, and a very sophisticated salmon hatchery.

I was a chemical engineer in my first career and there’s still something exhilarating about large tanks, pumps and pipework! We also took a trip on the Fort William to Mallaig steam railway. Unfortunately the views were spoilt by the mist – so we’ll have to go back again sometime. At least the rain was warm.

And yet winter must be just around the corner; and the obvious question is; are we ready? After two consecutive mild winters we are probably less worried about severe weather incidents. How quickly we forget. A recent survey found that almost nine out of 10 car owners believe they are prepared for an emergency largely because three-quarters carry an ice-scraper and de-icer. I suggest there might be a bit more to it than that. How good are your tyres? They are the only thing between us and the road. They directly affect our ability to stop, turn, or stay in a straight line. I’ve just replaced all four on our car. They were still legal, although not by very much. I simply cannot get around my constituency without using a car and I would like to get home again in one piece. It’s a bit late to think about changing them once the ice is on the road.

You can also prepare an emergency kit for your car, and make sure you have the relevant numbers in your mobile phone. If you get caught up in one of those long traffic jams will you have a thermos, something to eat, a blanket, waterproofs?

And safety is of course compromised by those who drink and drive. I welcome the news that the Scottish Government’s plans to reduce the drink-drive limit on Scotland’s roads. We don’t expect a taxi driver or bus driver to have been drinking so why should we have to share the road with car drivers who have?

It is proposed that we cut the blood alcohol limit of drivers from 80mg per 100ml to 50mg per 100ml, which brings us into line with Europe. Estimates suggest that around one in ten deaths on roads in Scotland involve drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit. We need to recognise as a society that this is preventable and unacceptable.